“We think that is where we belong, playing in the Senior Championship,” the summary of Brian Rushe after his Naomh Padraig side overpowered St Marys in the final of the Intermediate Football League to deservedly qualify for the quarter-finals of the Warwickshire Senior Football Championship.
In a dramatic day of action at a drenched Páirc na hÉireann, Leicester’s victory may have answered one question in regards to the make-up of this autumn’s Warwickshire Championship, but the day’s Senior Football League game across on the upper pitch threw not so much a cat as a panther amongst the pigeons - with St Brendans seeing off John Mitchels to move within touching distance of automatic qualification for the Championship Semi-finals.
Should Brendans avoid defeat to already semi-final bound Sean McDermotts in the final round of matches this coming Saturday (throw-in currently scheduled for noon), they will join them automatically.
For John Mitchels, they must defeat Erin go Bragh by at least four points to stand any chance of finishing second, but it’s within the hands of St Brendans after a rip-roaring second-half performance inspired by Michael McGettrick saw them bag two excellent goals into the driving rain to run out winners by 3-14 to 1-15.
With Roger Casements defeating Erin go Bragh in Sunday’s other Senior Football League game in Erdington, it now looks likely that the Coventry club will finish third in the table and face Leicester in the Championship Quarter-final.
Yet in the early stages of the league final on Sunday, St Marys looked the more likely qualifier after a lightning start put them five points up with Ethan Mannion slotting home the opening goal of the game past Anthony Gallagher in the Leicester goal.
Ryan Flanagan was a constant threat for Leicester all match and he nearly retaliated with a goal of his own but for some defiant last-ditch defending from Wolverhampton.
Cathal Noone’s first of eight frees for the afternoon got Leicester off the mark before Flanagan added a second from open play and when Kevin Murphy turned his marker to head for goal the full-forward drilled home the first of four Leicester goals.
Three consecutive Noone frees sent Leicester into the lead and just before the interval he combined with Flanagan who had the simplest of tasks to palm the ball into the back of the Wolverhampton net.
Marys began brightly in the second period with frees from Mannion and Alan Brooks, but it was largely one-way traffic from thereon as Leicester took a firm grip on the scoring.
Shortly after being denied his second goal, Flanagan made amends with a neat finish to the back of the net from close range before Noone tagged on three further scores (one free) to cement what was a commanding lead by the midway point of the half.
There was still time for Chris Bownes to force goal number four over the line and cap a memorable day for Naomh Padraig – now it’s just a question of who they will definitely face next as we await this Sunday and the final round of matches in the Senior Football League.
NAOMH PADRAIG 4-17 (29)
ST MARYS 1-5 (8)